Electronic Newsletter, January 29, 2010

Half Dome Cables Interim Permit System
To address safety concerns related to increased crowding on the Half Dome cables, the National Park Service is instituting an interim permit system during the summer of 2010 and 2011. The interim permit system will limit the number of people using the cables to 400 people per day and will be in effect on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays from mid May to October. Visit our website for details.

The National Park Service will initiate an environmental assessment process for a long-term plan for the Half Dome cables beginning in spring 2010. This plan is expected to be implemented in the 2012 season. The quality of this plan will benefit from maximum public involvement. Visit our website to learn how you can get involved.

Revised decision documents for Yosemite Valley Plan, Yosemite Lodge Area Redevelopment Plan, and Curry Village and East Valley Campgrounds Improvements
In 2006, a lawsuit was filed by Friends of Yosemite Valley et. al., challenging the 2000 Yosemite Valley Plan (YVP). Simultaneously, the National Park Service was involved in a separate lawsuit filed by the same plaintiffs challenging the 2005 Merced River Plan (MRP). Because the YVP was tiered from the MRP, the National Park Service and the plaintiffs agreed to suspend proceedings on the YVP lawsuit until the courts made a ruling on the MRP.

In March 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion finding that the 2005 Merced River Plan did not satisfy the requirements of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Because the YVP, and in turn the Yosemite Lodge Area Redevelopment Environmental Assessment and Curry Village and East Yosemite Valley Campgrounds Environmental Assessment, were tiered from the MRP, the adverse decision from the 9th Circuit had profound implications on the ability of the National Park Service to defend these tiered NEPA documents in litigation. As a result, in consultation with the former Regional Director, a decision was made that it was better to rescind these plans.

Following that decision, the National Park Service and the plaintiffs reached a Settlement Agreement on September 29, 2009, that resolves both lawsuits challenging the YVP and the MRP. As a part of the Settlement Agreement, the National Park Service agreed to prepare a Revised Record of Decision for the 2000 Final Yosemite Valley Plan/Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. This Revised Record of Decision for the Yosemite Valley Plan revokes NEPA compliance for many of the actions that had originally been selected for implementation in the 2000 Yosemite Valley Plan Record of Decision, as well as remains supportive of those actions that have already been implemented.

The decision documents that support two projects (specifically named in the Settlement Agreement) were also agreed to be rescinded/revised. These are the Yosemite Lodge Area Redevelopment and the Curry Village and East Yosemite Valley Campground Improvements. The Revised Findings of No Significant Impact documents use a similar approach to that of the Revised Record of Decision. They are written to support the portions of work completed on those projects prior to the Stop Work Order that was issued by the District Court.

The Revised Yosemite Valley Plan Record of Decision (ROD), Revised Yosemite Lodge Area Redevelopment Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), and Revised Curry Village and East Valley Campgrounds Improvements Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) are available at www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/litigation.htm.

Tioga Road Rehabilitation (Big Oak Flat Road to May Lake Road) Environmental Assessment Scoping Opens Februay 4, 2010

The National Park Service is initiating an environmental assessment (EA) to study rehabilitating 27 miles of the Tioga Road to make safety improvements, while preserving natural and cultural resources along the road providing access to Tuolumne Meadows, Tioga Pass, U.S. Route 395 and trailheads for the John Muir, Pacific Crest, Yosemite Creek, Lukens Lake, and South Fork of Tuolumne trails. The EA for the Tioga Road Rehabilitation will satisfy compliance with both the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.

The existing roadway surface on this western segment of the Tioga Road is in very poor condition, major maintenance repairs have not been undertaken for over 40 years. The existing road shoulders and road surface have deteriorated beyond minor repair due to poor drainage and subsurface erosion. Many areas of this road are unsafe due to the limited site distance and poor condition of the road surface. Some culverts are in poor condition, and others are undersized and/or poorly located. Roadside parking is for the most part informal resulting in steadily increasing turnout numbers and size as well as resource damage. The proposed project would address these issues.

Public scoping will occur from February 4 through March 5, 2010. An environmental assessment is proposed to be issued for public review in fall 2010. Construction is expected to begin in Summer/Fall 2012 and to be completed by Summer/Fall 2016.

During the public scoping period, two Public Open Houses will be held, one at the public library in Groveland, CA on February 18th from 6 pm to 8 pm and one at the Valley Visitor Center Auditorium on February 24th from 1 pm to 4 pm.

Please provide comments on the purpose and need for the project, alternatives that should or should not be considered, what issues should be considered, what issues do not need to be covered.

You are encouraged to submit comments online at the National Park Service Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) site. This site provides access to current plans, environmental impact analyses, and related documents on public review. Access the site at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/yose/.

Written scoping comments to be submitted or postmarked no later than March 5, 2010 to:

Superintendent, Yosemite National Park
Attn: Tioga Road Rehabilitation (Big Oak Flat Road to May Lake Road)
PO Box 577
Yosemite, CA 95389
Fax: 209/379-1294

Last updated: March 1, 2015

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Yosemite National Park, CA 95389


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